Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/923/23879

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 November 2016

Mass student strike rocks Spanish state

Further mass action planned to pressure PP government

photo ES

photo ES   (Click to enlarge)

A tidal wave of protest swept through the streets and squares of Spain on 26 October. Two million, mainly school students, took part in a strike organised by Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE - students union). Claire Laker-Mansfield, national organiser of Socialist Students (England and Wales), was invited to participate by Izquierda Revolucionaria which plays a leading role in SE. Here is her report.

The strike was solid - with over 90% participation. But students did not simply stay at home. More than 200,000 young people joined the demonstrations that had been organised in over 60 towns and cities. This was a mighty day of resistance.

In Madrid alone, 60,000 students swept through the streets. The mood on the protest was an infectious mix of anger, determination and empowerment. For thousands of those taking part, this was their first major demonstration - a first experience of taking collective action.

So, as well as anger, there was also joy and optimism. There was renewed confidence that austerity was not just a fact of life, that it could be fought and defeated.

The strike's most prominent demand was to abolish the 'revalidas' that are being introduced by the government. These first existed under the dictator General Franco and are a series of compulsory exams that students are forced to take at different stages of their schooling.

Lowering expectations

Under the plans, students who fail to pass the tests will be prevented from progressing to the next stage in their academic study. What's more, qualifications they have already obtained will not be valid.

If rolled out in the way the government intends, these exams will prevent thousands of students, especially those from working class backgrounds, from accessing university. Worse still, thousands more could be forced to leave education early, with almost no formal qualifications. In reality, the intention is to brand young people as 'failures' and to lower their sights and expectations.

But it is capitalism that is the real failure. Spanish youth unemployment currently stands at a staggeringly high 45%. So the student strike was also, in part, a protest against the dire prospects young people are faced with and the doors that are being slammed in their faces.

As well as demanding an end to the Francoist 'revalidas', the strike was also against the 'LOMCE' - a government decree which includes swingeing cuts to education.

One of the chants which rang out most often was 'Si Se Puede' - yes we can. This was the slogan used by the anti-eviction housing movement that has swept Spain. It showed the way the school students taking part in the strike saw themselves as participants in an overall movement against austerity and its effects.

One of the warmest receptions for speakers addressing the crowd was for a striking Coca-Cola worker. "Workers and students unite" was repeatedly chanted as the march went on.

In Madrid, teachers were also on strike that day. Their trade unions had supported and called for a demonstration to take place in the evening. But this was not repeated elsewhere.

The isolated nature of the teachers strike in Madrid was not due to a lack of anger or willingness to take action among education workers. Instead, it was the fear by the trade union leaders of what might be unleashed. So, like in Britain, the right-wing trade union leaderships are attempting to block the development of mass struggle.

Parents

But despite the inadequacies of the trade union leaders, tens of thousands of workers joined the demonstration that had been called in Madrid that evening. One of the factors in the huge success of the strike was the support of the national parents association (CEAPA). As well as taking part and jointly calling the evening march, CEAPA also helped organise for thousands of parents to keep their young children off school during the strike day.

This was the first action of its scale for a number of years. And it broke the dam, setting loose the enormous discontent and anger which exists within Spanish society. Just a few days later a mass protest took place in Madrid against the formation of the right-wing Partido Popular (PP) government.

One word that protesters repeatedly chanted was 'traitors'. They were referring to the rotten capitulation of the so-called Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) leaders. A majority of PSOE MPs abstained in a parliamentary vote to elect the prime minister.

The result of this abstention was to hand power to the right-wing PP, despite their failure to win a majority in the election. So on 26 October, the anger at this impending historic betrayal was enormous.

Anger

More mass protests have taken place opposing the formation of an unelected PP government. The SE has declared that, unless the government meets its demands, in particular by scrapping the 'revalidas', a further student strike will take place in November. Given the anger that is boiling over, there is every possibility that this could be as big, or even bigger, than the first one.

ES general secretary Ana Garcia (left) and Socialist Students national organiser Claire Laker-Mansfield (centre) speak to the media photo ES

ES general secretary Ana Garcia (left) and Socialist Students national organiser Claire Laker-Mansfield (centre) speak to the media photo ES   (Click to enlarge)

Throughout the day, the leaders of the SE, including Ana Garcia the general secretary, were interviewed by the main television channels, newspapers and other media. Ana was able to express the intense anger and determination of her members.

This stood in contrast to the leaders of the major trade unions. But Ana was also able to raise the need for a generalised fightback - helping to apply pressure to the tops of the trade unions to do their jobs.

The international solidarity that was organised by socialists and trade unionists around the world played a big part in boosting the confidence and determination of students and workers.

On the demonstration, I was able to mention only a small number of the solidarity actions that had been organised by the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI). But every example I gave generated huge cheers.

The action organised by the CWI in Hong Kong - in which Spain's consul general physically assaulted and attacked a protester - served to demonstrate the establishment's fear of movements like these, as well as the dangerous conditions which socialists work in in many parts of the world.

This action made a particular impression and has since been reported in two major national newspapers in Spain. But it was also the scale and scope of the solidarity effort which helped buoy people. There were protests in more than 20 countries worldwide.

The strike that took place on 26 October has given workers and young people in Spain a fresh taste of struggle. It has broken any fragile social peace that had existed and paved the way for a new phase in the fight against austerity and the capitalist system which demands it.

And this determination to fight will not stop at the borders of Spain. Around the world, on the basis of capitalism, the next generation faces a bleak future.

Some of the biggest cheers at the rallies in Madrid came when speakers raised the need for socialist change. That is a foretaste of the huge movements that are to come, movements that will fight for an end to the rotten capitalist system and fight for a socialist society in the interests of the 99%.

It was not just in Madrid where thousands of students joined protests. These are a few examples of the fantastic protests that took place all over the Spanish state.

In the Basque country, more than 10,000 marched in Bilbao, 5,000 in Donostia and thousands more in Vitoria/Gasteiz and Iruña.

In Catalonia, more than 50,000 filled the streets of Barcelona, with thousands more in Tarragona and Girona and dozens of other towns. Almost 10,000 marched in Valencia, with thousands more in Alicante. In Galicia: 5,000 in A Coruña, 3,000 in Ferrol and thousands more in other towns. 5,000 in Zaragoza.

In Andalucia it was spectacular: 15,000 in Granada, 10,000 in Sevilla, 7,000 in Malaga, 2,000 in Cadiz and over 1,000 in Almeria and Huelva... Thousands also marched in Extremadura, the Canary Islands, and the Balearic Islands, in Murcia, Castilla y León, Castilla La Mancha, and Cantabria.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 2 November 2016:


What we think

Corbyn movement must seize initiative - or face defeat


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight for decent jobs for all

Fight the 'burning' of our museums and libraries!

Battle of Orgreave: Establishment cover up continues

One third of 2010's new teachers have already quit

We are all Daniel Blake: no more deaths from benefit cuts

LGBT people need militancy, not false 'allies' like David Cameron

What we saw


Refugee solidarity

Solidarity with refugees

Demolition of Calais 'Jungle' camp - eyewitness report

My time in a detention centre


Socialist Party youth and students

Mass student strike rocks Spanish state

Glasgow School of Arts students "let us learn" revolt


International socialist news and analysis

EU-Canada trade deal battle points to Corbyn's Brexit opportunity


Environment and socialism

Heathrow expansion exposes Tory divisions


Socialist Party feature

Will workers on company boards make bosses accountable?


Workplace news and analysis

Sheffield bin workers' action strengthens in numbers and mood

Solid Southern strike continues against Britain's 'worst' train company

Newsquest strike: "It's impossible to do our jobs"

Outsourced ambulance workers strike in Tooting


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Glenfield heart unit closure: Over 1,000 march

Massive demo against A&E closure

Campaigners call on Greenwich council to oppose the Housing Act

Haringey care services face ruthless cuts and privatisation

Teaching assistants stage vigil and rally

"Our problems cannot be solved by capitalist politics"


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 November 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Spain:

triangleSpain: Student general strike against sexist, capitalist 'justice' system

triangleCWI news in brief

triangleSpain: 'We don't want to be brave, we want to be free!'

triangleCatalonia: new Francoist coup - general strike now!

triangleSpain: millions on streets against sexism and capitalist oppression

Student:

triangleHow 'Prevent' training fosters racist paranoia

triangleStop Trump! Build for 13 July student walkouts

triangleStudent leaders claim one million on the streets against Brexit - fight for a workers' exit

triangleMay 1968: Police attacks on students spark mass revolt

Strike:

triangleIn the words of Amber Rudd, "no one died at Orgreave"

triangleHousing strike against individualised pay enters week two

triangleCivil service pay strike ballot: vote yes!

State:

triangleSocialist nationalisation: what it is and why we need it

triangleHistoric victory won by grassroots movement

Government:

triangleJordan: Workers and youth remove prime minister and demand end to austerity

Students:

triangleCampaigning in Southampton for school and college walkouts when Trump visits Britain on 13th July

Protest:

triangleSheffield Labour council "happy" to jail trees protesters

Demonstration:

triangleDefend Hull FE College - defend our city!

Young people:

triangleUnited working class movements can defeat Trump

School:

triangleSpringfield school strike in Birmingham against job cuts and workload

Education:

triangleCongress shut down by staff walkouts

Teachers:

triangleVictory: how school strike beat 'academy' privatisers

Podemos:

triangleCatalan elections: PP humiliated

University:

triangleUCU conference: Build the union, build the struggles!

Coca-cola:

triangleMay's "war on plastic" still puts profits before the planet

Catalonia:

triangleCatalonia: thousands on the streets

International

International

13/6/18

Venezuela

Venezuela: Neither the capitalists nor regime can solve the crisis

6/6/18

Italy

Italy's political crisis is reverberating through Europe

6/6/18

Jordan

Jordan: Workers and youth remove prime minister and demand end to austerity

6/6/18

Donald Trump

No to Trump's trade war

4/6/18

Gaza

Eyewitness report from Gaza: "Razan was killed in front of my eyes"

30/5/18

Ireland

Historic victory won by grassroots movement

28/5/18

Ireland

Landslide vote to repeal Ireland's abortion laws

23/5/18

Gaza

Yes to the struggle to lift the siege

23/5/18

Amazon

Tax Amazon movement wins in Seattle

16/5/18

Spain

Spain: Student general strike against sexist, capitalist 'justice' system

16/5/18

Belgium

Belgium Lidl strike victory

16/5/18

Gaza

Exclusive interview with Gazan activist: "The more they kill us, the more the anger increases"

16/5/18

Sweden

Sweden: Socialist elected leader of 77,000-strong tenants' union

9/5/18

Israel

Socialists fight for Palestinian liberation and workers' unity

9/5/18

Antisemitism

Socialists in Israel-Palestine reject establishment antisemitism charge against Jeremy Corbyn

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999